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New classes prove popular at Lutcher High

By STACEY PLAISANCE / L’Observateur / October 12, 1998

LUTCHER – Video/media production and law studies, two new elective courses at Lutcher High School, have been widely received by the students.

Penny Gafford, instructor of the video/media production class, said with the block scheduling system to be implemented at Lutcher High next year, a wider selection of classes was needed, especially with electives. Theblock system will require that students take eight classes over the course of one year in fall and spring semester blocks. Therefore, four courseswill be taken during half of the fiscal year, and another four courses will be taken during the second interval.

“Hahnville and Destrehan have already done a good job of getting that variety of classes with their block schedule systems, and we need to do the same,” Gafford said.

Hennis Roussel, instructor of the law studies class, said the variety of electives was also needed in order to provide traditional students with more interesting and challenging options.

“Most of my students are traditional, average students, but you wouldn’t know it,” Roussel said. “It’s a really good class, and I have students fromall walks of life.

“The honor students have several electives they can choose from, and this is an interesting and challenging elective that’s offered to traditional students, not just the honor students. It’s a lot different than taking shopor some other elective.”Students must be juniors or seniors and have completed the basic civics course in order to register for the law studies class.

Both video/media production and law studies apply hands-on learning and experience in combination with traditional classroom procedures.

Gafford’s production class just completed its first assignment requiring that each student create a personalized video. With individual pictures,graphics and music, each student made a personal video photo album.

Derayne Franklin, a senior, said producing his own video was both a learning experience and an opportunity to document his growth through high school.

“It was a way for me to show how I’ve matured,” Franklin said. “I’ve comeup from a lot since I’ve been here, and it hasn’t been easy.

“In this class I’m learning how to use the camera, and I may take college courses on this because I really enjoy it,” he said.

Most of the students enrolled in the law studies class said they had interest in either becoming lawyers or continuing their law studies in college. Some students said they just wanted to know more about the lawand how it works. This class has conducted mock court trials, and St.James Parish School Board member Jude Roulette attended the students’ most recent trial.

“I think he was very impressed by the performance of these students,” Roussel said. “Each trial will get more and more detailed and complicated,and the entire school has gotten involved.”The jury is comprised of students from other classes, such as fine arts, and the video/media production class was given the opportunity to video the trial, Roussel said.

Roussel said he wants to implement an appeals program at the high school using his law studies class as the judicial decision makers.

“This would only be used in very minor instances involving students, and not with severe problems,” Roussel said. “I hope this is something wecould do. My kids would be the prosecutors and defense attorneys.”Students in both classes have had to take examinations just as in traditional classroom environments, but the hands-on learning is what the students really enjoy, Gafford said. Other assignments for the year willinclude video “Teacher Features” and music videos.

Lacy Duplechin, a junior, and Mandy Babin, a senior, said their friends and families have supported their video production interests.

“It’s good to know how to use the camera, and these videos make great gifts,” Duplechin said. “My mom said that if I get an ‘A’ in the class shewill get me some video equipment.””I brought my video home to my mom, and now she wants to get a video camera for me to work with,” Babin said.

Funding for the production class equipment was raised by the students as they hosted a Back-to-School Dance. With the admission fees andassistance from the drama club fund, the students purchased two cameras, two television sets and VCRs, two converter boxes and a CD/tape player.

“We still have some money left over to get basic editing equipment, and later we’ll play with more special effects,” Gafford said. “We haven’t hadany problems with the students misusing any of the equipment.”Duplechin said that because this was a trial course, she really didn’t know what to expect when she signed up for the class.

“At first we only had two cameras and some VCRs, but we shot some videos at the dance for practice, and that was a fun way to learn how to use the cameras,” she said.

Michael Summers, a senior and assistant to Gafford, said he plans on pursuing a career in broadcasting and the class has provided him the opportunity to gain knowledge and experience in the field.

“I want to be a broadcaster or work in production, and this class has been interesting,” Summers said. “I took it because I thought I should knowmore about cameras and videos.”Gafford said ideas for new elective courses are spreading among the faculty members at Lutcher, and some teachers are aiming to introduce other classes, such as creative writing and computer graphics.

“I love to teach classes that the students are interested in,” Gafford said.

“I believe that if students have an interest, they like it and do it better.”

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